September 20, 2021
Apple to release iOS 15 Monday. Here's what we know about the new features in the iPhone update
Are you counting down the minutes until you can download the new iOS to your iPhone and iPad?
Apple's iOS 15 arrives Monday, the annual fall tradition that brings new features to Apple's iPhone ahead of the launch of its latest smartphone.
Apple revealed the first details of iOS 15 during an online keynote address in June during its annual Worldwide Developers Conference. Last week, the tech giant said the free software update will be available starting Sept. 20 as it introduced the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini and iPhone 13 Pro during a virtual event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California.
Among the other devices unveiled in the Sept. 14 live-streamed event: A revamped budget iPad, an updated version of its iPad Mini, and the new Apple Watch Series 7 with a bigger display.
The launch of iOS 15 comes a week after Apple released an emergency software patch, iOS 14.8, for iPhones and iPads.
Here's everything we know about iOS 15:
What time will iOS 15 be released?
Apple said the new operating system will be available Sept. 20, days before the Sept. 24 launch of the new iPhone 13 devices. Most years, the new software is available at 10 a.m. PT or 1 p.m. ET but many people rush to download as soon as the update is available, which can lead to longer download times.
Last year, iOS 14 was available on Sept. 16. But 2020 was an odd year (for obvious reasons), and Apple launched the iPhone 12 in October.
For the iPhone 11 and iOS 13, Apple released the iPhone on Sept. 20, 10 days after its reveal event, while iOS 13 launched the day before.
Which iPhones will support iOS 15?
This update goes all the way back to the iPhone 6s, so if you have that iPhone model or any version after that, you're set.
Will all iPhones support every new feature?
The key factor deciding which features you'll get on your iPhone is the processing chip. Phones without the A12 chip or later miss out on features such as Portrait Mode or spatial audio on FaceTime, immersive walking directions, and Live Text, which lets users search within photos or screenshots for text.
So which phones don't have the A12 chip? Every model between the iPhone 6s and the iPhone X.
How to update your iPhone or iPad with iOS 15
The best way to check is to head to Settings, then General, then Software Update. Your iPhone will tell you whether iOS 15 is ready to roll.
When it is available, plug in your device or make sure your device has 50% battery life or more. Then tap "Install Now."
Some older phones should allow users to update by plugging in to a laptop and going through iTunes, if you prefer a tethered option.
What features will appear with iOS 15?
The most notable change with iOS 15 is an update to FaceTime. Users also get a Focus mode to help manage distracting notifications, upgrades to the Weather and Map apps, and the option to add your state identification or personal driver's license to your Apple Wallet, although that feature won't arrive at launch.
There are also changes to messaging, live text in photos, new Memoji and more.
FaceTime calls with Android and Windows devices
With the update to FaceTime, you get a grid view to see everyone on a FaceTime call, the option to take calls in Portrait Mode, and you can participate in a FaceTime call through an Android or Windows device.
Apple said users with non-Apple devices can "join using the latest version of Chrome or Edge."
But don't get too excited: You need to know someone with an iPhone who can start the call and send you a link to join.
iPhone notifications change with Focus
Apple attempts to eliminate the clutter by tweaking how you can control notifications on your phone.
The new Focus app is part of iOS 15 and with it you'll receive notifications summaries that you can get in the morning or afternoon. The notifications are ordered by priority, utilizing on-device intelligence to figure out which app alerts matter most.
With the Focus app, you can tailor which notifications you get at specific times of the day. For example, users can set modes such as personal, work, or fitness that will provide notifications on the apps you want and silence the others.
The Focus app also adds a message when someone tries to text you that notes you have "notifications silenced with Focus." Apple says "for truly urgent messages, there's still a way for people to notify you."
Weather and Maps apps get upgrades
The two Apple apps get important upgrades. For Weather, data and layouts will change based on the forecast, including graphics and animated backgrounds.
For example, if it's raining, you'll see rain pouring in the background as you review the forecast. The app will also support full screen, high-resolution weather maps with details such as air quality and precipitation.
Maps will include custom designed landmarks and a nighttime mode with moonlit glow. Maps will also feature more detail such as the location of turn lanes and where crosswalks are spotted to help spot traffic conditions more easily and figure out the right lane to join.
Maps also get transit upgrades, including the option to view directions on Apple Watch. You can also soon use augmented reality to point toward the right direction when exiting a transit station. The AR feature can capture images of nearby buildings, then provide visual directions on where to go.
SharePlay feature not coming Monday
Want to watch TV shows or movies during a FaceTime call? Apple says this will be possible with SharePlay.
"SharePlay is an entirely new way to have experiences with family and friends, no matter the distance," Apple said.
But the new option won't be available when iOS 15 debuts. Apple says it is coming "later this fall."
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